Rigby Guns


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May 29, 2009
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Now that the John Rigby name is going to be put on rifles made in London, what becomes of the California Rigby Co? Are they the same or will there be a legal issue here with the use of the Rigby name?
There are very lengthy and nasty threads on other forums concerning this.

The following is the best summary I have read concerning the facts of the matter.

Interesting article with some of the history on Miller & Co from the Vintage Guns site:

"Will The Real John Rigby Please Stand Up?

A Historic British gunmaker gets batted back and forth across
the Atlantic.

By Cameron Hopkins - (this was sent to me by a respected US based journalist).

Will The Real John Rigby Ple… Weatherby Nation Hits Milest…The storied English gunmaker John Rigby & Co (Gunmakers) Ltd. has been operating out of Paso Robles, Calif. for 12 years, however, a new John Rigby & Co (Gunmakers) Ltd. has surfaced in London after the original corporate entity was abandoned in Great Britain.

We'll refer to the pair as "California Rigby" and "London Rigby" for the sake of clarity. Only "California Rigby" claims to be the legitimate John Rigby & Co (Gunmakers) Ltd. dating to Ireland in 1735. "London Rigby" merely claims to have filed a corporation under the name John Rigby & Co (Gunmakers) Ltd. after "California Rigby" neglected to file a trademark or incorporate the company in England.

This whole affair dates back to 1997 when Neil Gibson of Texas bought the historic record books, intellectual property and other rights to the John Rigby & Co (Gunmakers) Ltd. marque from Paul Roberts of J. Roberts & Sons of London .

J. Roberts & Sons bought the rights in Rigby in 1984 and changed its name to John Rigby & Co (Gunmakers) Ltd. However, in 1997 when Roberts sold the Rigby rights to Gibson, Roberts abandoned the company name of Rigby and refilled under its original name of J. Roberts & Sons, thereby allowing the company name of John Rigby & Co (Gunmakers) Ltd. to lapse. It ceased to be a corporate entity in 2002.

"California Rigby" came into being when gunsmith Geoff Miller of Rogue River Rifleworks in California signed a note to purchase the Rigby intellectual property assets from Gibson, however, Miller never paid Gibson.

Gibson subsequently sold the note to Marc Halcon, a longtime firearms industry figure, who foreclosed on Miller. Rather than face foreclosure, Miller filed bankruptcy. As a result of the bankruptcy, a new investor paid off Halcon's note. Miller continues to make guns under the John Rigby name in an arrangement with the current note owner.

Meanwhile, up steps Mark Neal of London, an engineer by profession and an avid shooter by avocation.

Neal launched a project to build a modern version of what is widely regarded as the finest double rifle action ever made, the Rigby "rising bite" or Bisel action. Working with gunsmiths in the trade as well as other professional engineers, Neal dissected the rising bite action and rend ered it into a CNC program. His intention is to offer rising bite rifles and shotguns under the corporate name of John Rigby & Co (Gunmakers) Ltd., which he has registered as a company in England.

I checked the British Trademark Registry and indeed no marque for John Rigby & Co (Gunmakers) Ltd. existed before June 11, 2009 when Miller belatedly filed an application, subsequent to Neal's launching of "London Rigby."

Neal explained his position on "London Rigby" in an e-mail to me, "I should briefly explain who we are as people. We are a collection of fairly ordinary people, engineers, gun-makers, shooters and hunters, gamekeepers and others. We are devoted to the Company that we have formed and it is our greatest wish that it succeed in bringing Rigby back to England and placing it again with the greatest names in gun-making. To this end we have worked tirelessly for more than a year.

"From the way that the knowledgeable shooting public have received us, overwhelmingly in the main, we feel that we have every chance in doing so."

Meanwhile, "California Rigby" issued this press release on Aug. 7, 2009:
"John Rigby & Co. (Gunmakers) Inc. is the only company that has the legal right to use the John Rigby trademarks and logo worldwide. We are advised by our legal counsel in both the U.K. and in the U.S. that the London-based company's unauthorized use of our John Rigby name is a clear infringement of our registered trademark rights and is clear grounds for a passing-off claim as well. We intend to initiate legal action forthwith seeking an injunction, damages and attorney's fees for this willful and egregious violation of our intellectual property rights."

On the same date (Aug. 7, 2009), Roberts issued the following statement:
"It has come to my attention that a new entity has formed under the John Rigby & Co. name and are now attempting to offer John Rigby guns and rifles under the trade name John Rigby & Co. (Gunmakers), Ltd.

"Under the circumstances, I wish it to be known that the new entity John Rigby & Co. (Gunmakers), Ltd. is in no way associated with the old firm, its staff or its products. Equally they have no connection with any guns and rifles manufactured and sold by J. Rigby & Co in the USA."

This prompted Neal (of "London Rigby") to offer the following:
"We state for the record, as we have done many times over the past few days, John Rigby & Co. (Gunmakers) Ltd. has no connection with a company of a similar name registered in the United States nor, heaven help us, would we wish to claim any.

"John Rigby & Co. (Gunmakers) Ltd. has no connection with any former company bearing that name. Again, we have stated this categori cally before."
Thank you for the clarification and update.
Good grief! :confused:

First we have Ovis and Wild Sheep duking it out over anything with 'Slam' in it and now this. Is there no end to the lunacy?:rolleyes:
It is a sad situation.

One camp believes the London Rigby Company has the right to produce rifles with the Rigby name because they feel the California Rigby is not up to the standards of the Rigby name, never mind that California Rigby bought (and eventually paid) the name.

Another camp believes it is wrong for the London Rigby to use the Rigby name even though the California Rigby guys did not renew the rights to the Rigby name in England.

It seems as though the London Rigby guys are building a very fine rifle at a reasonable price. I will not buy one because of their business practice of using the Rigby name.

But there is a 450-400 3 1/4" Boswell Double at Champlins built around 1910 that has my name written all over it.
Wow. Glad my double rifle escaped the dispute. According to a letter from the factory my Rigby double was manufactured for a 'Sir R. Harrington' in 1903 originally as a .450 3 1/4. It was then refurbished at the factory in the 1970's at which time it was also converted to .470 NE. Now, let the dispute between all participants continue.
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I was not impressed with the California Rigbys at all, and that is everyones right to pick and choose, but as to who does what I could care less. To me a Rigby is a great rifle, but it must be an original IMO, the old Rigbys had history, ambiance, and reeked of the old Africa and to those of us infected with nostalgia the name Rigby relates to the old original guns.
I'm a long time lurker and of late have decided on a 470 double. I love the british old doubles looking at few that are on sale, and good condition. My budget is around 50 K and I'm in TX. Any advice suggestions would be great.


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And as an update to the original 2009 post of this thread, John Rigby & Co. is all together back in London and has all the original archives, log books, design drawings, etc. of the original company. It is a subsidiary of the Blazer group and is making very fine "off the shelf" and custom, London Best rifles, both bolt action and Rising Bite doubles to the same designs as used by Rigby a hundred years ago.
Thank you, I have been eyeing the rising bite double they have. Seems out of my budget but plan to call them. There is also a JL Wilkins by John Wayne firearms that I’m looking at but don’t have too much info.
A friend just sent me photos of a Rigby falling block single shot he is finishing up (engraving). It is absolutely stunning!
Thank you, I have been eyeing the rising bite double they have. Seems out of my budget but plan to call them. There is also a JL Wilkins by John Wayne firearms that I’m looking at but don’t have too much info.
That Wilkins looks great! Hopefully someone will comment on whether the price is fair or not


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Gentleman - Any thoughts on the Wilkins?
My thoughts are that the Wilkins is beautiful; and honestly looking through the pics of that rifle suddenly made my entire collection feel inferior!

Especially the combination of color case hardening and engraving is both exceptional and stylish without being gaudy and Easter egg like.

Now having said that, if this is your first double I would strongly suggest get measured first and make sure the gun fits and or can be adjusted to fit you.

I know personally that getting the LOP correct on my .470 made a world of difference in felt recoil.
I think the price is too high. I’m looking for a Westley drop lock in the same price range

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